|Our Wedding Day - Summer Solstice 2000|
That five-year plan lasted about two weeks.
We came home from our honeymoon to the news that Kym's stepfather--a man I never met because Kym was no longer on speaking terms with him--had died that very day.
His funeral was held in Canton, CT (where Kym grew up) just a few days later. It was a very strange and sad event. Strange because most every conversation we had in the receiving line went something like "I am so sorry for your loss... and congratulations on your marriage!" And sad because there wasn't a single person among the few who attended the service who was sorry to see him go. They dug up a drinking buddy to do the eulogy and the one remotely positive thing he could say of Kym's stepdad was that he was smart.
But, as Kym had already told me, he used his intellectual powers more as a weapon than a force for good. I got to see this firsthand as we sorted through his meager personal effects with Kym's mom and found a pile of editorials--written for no apparent purpose other than his own amusement--that were full of misogynistic sentiments and spiteful words shrouded in clever turns of phrase. We read a sampling before throwing them all in the trash.
The funeral was a painful way to start our marital bliss. As we returned from Connecticut a couple of days later, Kym felt physically and emotionally spent. Her significant difficulty walking up the stairs to our second-story apartment was inexplicable given her commitment to personal fitness.
Even though she hadn't yet been "late," I thought she should check the box and get a pregnancy test. Two lines. An OB friend loaned me the keys to his office so we could get early ultrasound confirmation of her positive test. The grainy image of a tiny sac left no doubt about the result--or the timing of conception... our wedding night.
Putting all of the pieces together, we ultimately figured out that the Pill had been the culprit causing many of the symptoms that led to Kym's C/T scan... that led to the (incorrect) diagnosis of a recurrence of Hodgkin's Lymphoma... that led to our decision to set a wedding date sooner than later... that led to that magical evening on the beach. The Pill had also thrown off her schedule so she had no idea our wedding night was right in the middle of the baby-making window. Clearly, Kym's radiologic oncologist had succeeded in preserving her fertility.
I had already started down the path of finding a urologist so I could get "snipped" about three weeks after our wedding. Some say our son's conception during that brief window of opportunity was fated; others say it was an act of God's will. Whatever the source, you could make the argument that the vehicle for either option was the Pill--a conclusion made even more ironic by the fact that I was trained as an OB/Gyn.
Understandably, this seminal news left us stunned. The deer-in-headlights sort of stunned. It took us a good bit of soul searching to figure out what to do with this fork in the road. We hadn't looked at each other with the co-parenting lens for longer than it took us to laugh at the absurdity of it. Now we had to look deep into our own hearts and make a decision about something for which neither of us were truly prepared.
In the end, it came down to some simple calculus. We went to a local golf course--Kym had been giving me lessons on one of her greatest passions--and talked through it all while strolling though that idyllic setting. We concluded that, as much as we weren't ready to be parents, having a child could be an incredibly healing and enriching experience for us both. We knew the opportunity to share this particular journey together would almost certainly never come again.
So we chose to accept it as a gift and prepare to take a whole new direction. Gone were my visions of being a "kept man" so I could work on longer-term goals, inventions and creative works. I needed a "daddy" job with health insurance and a steady paycheck.
The pregnancy had its difficulties, with some early tests indicating that all was not well and some emotional challenges for Kym as she struggled to fully embrace motherhood during her pregnancy. All our concerns were assuaged when a very healthy, 10-pound 2-ounce Taylor used his well-developed lungs to let us know he was more than okay and none too happy about his emergence.
Fast forward almost 11 years. Kym and I have had our rough spots. Our marriage has been far from perfect and there have been at least a couple of times when we wondered why we were together at all. Today I can say that Kym and I are both happier than we've ever been--not just since our wedding day, but in our lives. Though I wasn't looking for a "real" job--I've found a meaningful and rewarding career in shaping the future of healthcare in my consulting work. It is demanding, but it still leaves room for family and creative pursuits. Kym has had time to focus on raising Taylor, completing her MBA at UConn, and, in the last several months, finding peace in her new-found Christian faith. And Taylor is thriving--blogging about his inventions, making increasingly impressive videos, and becoming a Black Belt in karate. We both continue to become more whole as individuals--my geek side would say we're asymptotically approaching wholeness--and Taylor has been a profoundly important part of our personal journeys.
What started as a passionate romance has grown into something even more powerful--a family.
Thanks, Regina, for inspiring me to look back at those early years so we could appreciate where we were when we started and how far we've come.